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The Benefits of API-first Approach for Promotions & Loyalty Programs
Mike Sedzielewski
Mike Sedzielewski
November 8, 2022
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The Benefits of API-first Approach to Promotions & Loyalty Programs?

This post will present all the benefits that an API-first technology can bring to your business.

You will also learn:

  • What is headless (composable) commerce?
  • Why API-based solutions are a good fit for future-oriented brands?
  • How an international company implemented a loyalty program with API-first promotion solution?

When tasked with researching software vendors, marketers' eyes turn to dashboards and customer-facing parts. No wonder, they don't want to get frustrated with a tool they're going to work with every day. They also don't want to let bad customer experience impact the success of their campaign. There's, however, a feature they often treat less seriously. A feature that is in fact a prerequisite of a well-oiled marketing stack – integration time. In this article, I want to show you how particular software integration capabilities can influence decision making when buying software. Hopefully, one day this knowledge will make comms with your IT colleagues easier, reducing misunderstandings, and ultimately, time to market.

This is a case study from the top multinational consumer goods company that launched a loyalty program using an API-first platform where they present how the benefits of headless approach over traditional platforms.

More on headless commerce:

New demands versus legacy software

The convergence of online and offline retail operations in recent years has brought new challenges to the management of offers, promotions and loyalty programs for large enterprises. One of them is how to deliver a unified commerce experience across both existing and new customer touchpoints such as mobile, social platforms, content, and more. Another challenge, even more complex, is how to make it tick in the multinational context, across several branches and teams. 

Being home to a number of enterprise-grade sales promotion and loyalty programs, we had the privilege to learn how enterprise digital teams design their offer and loyalty management software. One outstanding pattern we have noticed is that enterprises need more flexibility and control for building and scaling software platforms that support their marketing efforts. This is why they increasingly often choose API-first (headless) platforms over rigid ecommerce platforms. 

Lack of software flexibility = slower time to market and lower profitability

Why bother with APIs when you have dozens of SaaS ecommerce solutions out there? As much as web-focused SaaS provide a lot of out-of-the-box value for the regular ecommerce store, their lack of integration capabilities with customer touchpoints, CRM and ecommerce software ecosystem leads to simplistic approach to omni-channel customer journey, suboptimal rewarding schemes, and ineffective offer management in the enterprise context. 

Such approach yields mediocre customer engagement and in effect, leads to loss in revenue, market share, and margins.

What is an API-first approach?

What is it that makes API-based approach work then? Integrating offers with customer-facing applications and back-end requires a heavy IT investment. If you add organizational scale and complexity many multi-brand companies face, these tasks give your digital teams an uneasy headwind:

  1. CRM/ecommerce systems data synchronization.
  2. Adapting look and feel of offers to different channels:
  • Ever-changing customer touchpoints.
  • Various e-commerce software providers.
  • Different programming languages and frameworks.

     3. Multi-national offer management: 

  • Pricing strategies.
  • Privacy regulations.
  • Team roles and approval workflows.

Even if you have a substantial team of software engineers available (which isn’t often the case, right?), achieving this level flexibility of your offer management software can take ages.

This is where the headless commerce or API-first approach comes in. It gives your team programmable building blocks that make business logic development faster, but you still:

  • Get the freedom of choosing technology of the customer-facing applications,
  • Can connect your backend to other ecommerce/CRM systems to ensure data integrity.

In a nutshell, it takes out the cons of both rigid eCommerce platforms and the legacy in-house promotions implementations, making promotion and loyalty campaigns management easier for everyone.

  • Marketers can deliver unique and targeted promotion moments anywhere customers and your brand meet.
  • Developers get the ultimate level of control over the promotion logic and freedom to choose any front-end framework.
  • CTOs get a better total cost of ownership and don't need to limit ecommerce stack to a single vendor.

(Case study) A multinational loyalty program challenge and how API-based approach handles it 

Let’s take a look at some common challenges for a top multinational consumer goods company and how headless approach helps them bridge the technology gap as compared to cookie-cutter SaaS loyalty management solutions. This is how they summarize API-first (in this case Voucherify) advantages:

1. Loyalty program automation

As an API-first solution, anything that can be done in the administration panel can be automated for the purpose of multiple markets scenarios. In the same vein, the data synchronization endpoints from  API make loyalty programs easier to manage and maintain globally. Batch exports, on the other hand, are found useful for integration with business intelligence solutions.

2. Keeping ecommerce and marketing automation systems in the loop

Data integrity is essential for digital teams to navigate loyalty strategies across multiple brands and customer touchpoints. API not only supports programmable campaign creation and maintenance, but also automated notifications throughout the whole campaign lifecycle. This is achieved with CRM and product catalog synchronization endpoints, and webhooks triggered by 50+ events. On top of that, native plugins to popular ecommerce (Shopify in our case) and CRM platforms reduce integration time tenfold.

3. Custom tiering conditions

Regular loyalty solutions offer only few dimensions to build an incentive scheme. Our multibrand loyalty program requires more. This is where Voucherify metafield capability comes in. It allows you to create tiers on any customer attribute, reaching outside default dimensions such as purchase history.

4. Integration with 3rd party receipt scanning platform

Our loyalty program enables customers to earn points for offline purchases which will be tracked with OurCart, receipt data extraction and identification platform. With Voucherify loyalty API endpoints, the digital team can easily make OurCart events accepted by the Voucherify loyalty engine – recognizing local regulations and loyalty strategies.

5. Multi-region cloud deployment

Voucherify offers a custom location for deployment. This translates into better application response for your customer-facing applications and overall performance of your ecommerce ecosystem. But there’s more, separate deployments enable security- and performance-oriented customization including API throttling or stronger isolation from Voucherify partners.

6. GDPR and data privacy

Voucherify offers a dedicated endpoint for permanent consumer data removal and modification. With this in place, GDPR-related requests can be handled with the same day response time, adding up to your overall customer experience.

7. Multiple systems integration

In the enterprise context, the speed of integration depends on how quickly software engineers can understand the platform, its features and limitations. Being a developer-friendly solution, Voucherify comes with multiple programming libraries, SDKs, and detailed documentation to make their day-to-day integration tasks easier. 


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